Having recently enjoyed seeing the film The Great Gatsby, I was not a little excited to see that within the story line, writing therapy is mentioned and recommended to Nick Caraway by his psychiatrist.
Nick has been through traumas with the demise of his friend Jay Gatsby, as well as the amoral way people behaved within the societal circles of a fictionalised place near New York. He is anxious, nervous and is suffering a psychiatric condition. His psychiatrist is listening to him, however, he says to Nick, (paraphrased):
“Take this journal. Write it all down as it was and happened.”
“I’m no good at writing, I have already tried that.”
“You don’t need to be, write down everything, tell the story as it was, no one need see it. You can burn it afterwards.”
So Caraway does, and he writes and writes and writes and releases himself from the strain and psychological pain that an experience like his can inflict. (A great piece of literature worth reading if you are ever interested.) His psychiatrist is describing perfectly, writing therapy.
Within this scene the essential tenets of writing therapy are communicated:
- Write down the incident, stress, or trauma, using narrative (one of the most effective forms though I do letters, autobiography and poetry as well in my workshops.)
- Be completely honest about your emotions about this event, worry, concern or anxiety. Do not censor yourself at all.
- Don’t worry about being a great writer, about grammar, or writing structure even, simply write the narrative in the way that you can. Write from your perspective or the perpetrators perspective if you’re bold (more release can be achieved this way, through empathy for the other).
- No one need see it. In fact write as if no one will ever see it. You can burn it, destroy it, publish it, shred it, have a ceremony and destroy it. The point is the writing is not for an audience, but to be completely confidential, unless you choose otherwise.
This is writing therapy, and it works, dramatically for people.
When it is examined, writing therapy has been utilised for centuries though has only been studied since the 1980s in a scientific manner. Through these studies, psychiatrists and others have shown that people can be completely healed from traumas, physically, mentally and emotionally. In fact the physical benefits were the most surprising. You can read about that here on my website.
Writing therapy is being honest with yourself, totally truthful or it doesn’t work and releasing yourself through the process of writing. It works. You do not need to be a writer. Writing prowess is actually irrelevant in this process. You do not even need to enjoy writing to practice writing therapy. By doing writing therapy you will come to enjoy writing even more as you experience freedom from worries, concerns and anxieties you didn’t think was possible. I will post more soon. Thanks for reading! Go well.